Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: 1984

Last month I read George Orwell's 1984  for the first time. Despite the fact that this title is considered to be a literary classic, I had never had the opportunity to read it in school even though I took countless literature classes in high school and college. I'm really happy that I've challenged myself to read more books that are considered to be classics that I missed because they are definitely classics for a good reason!

When I was considering buying this book for my collection, I kept seeing review that said things along the lines of "even though this story is based in 1984, it couldn't be more relevant for today's society". I totally agree with this, especially in today's societal climate. For example, there's been a lot of discussion of "over-political-correctness" and the prosecution of those that are not careful about what they say, which could be a less extreme version of Orwell's "thoughtcrime". If you think about our dependence on technology, especially on our phones, laptops, and televisions, is extremely comparable to the "telescreens" installed in the homes of citizens to monitor every move and every thought of the people of Oceania. It's pretty scary to think of how the description of society Orwell puts forth in 1984 is so applicable to our society today, especially when you remember that this book was originally published in 1949!

The plot is divided into three very distinctive parts - the first is establishing the landscape of the dystopian society that the main character Winston lives in, the second is significant character development for both Winston and his love interest, Julia, and the third is the consequences of their relationship. It has a very natural arc to the story, but it doesn't make you feel like you know exactly what is going to happen. There were some points that Iwas a little bit bored, but for the most part I kept wanting to know more about this world that Winston and Julia lived in and continued to wonder if they could ever escape from their oppressive government.

I can imagine that this story was very cutting edge for its time and I can't imagine how a post-WWII, mid-cold war, propaganda-filled society would have reacted to a book like this. It is often said that this book is what ended up killing Orwell (the book was published in 1949, Orwell died in 1951) and I could totally see how that ides could be plausible. I, of course, can't imagine what it is like to live through a World War, but I can imagine that millions of people had very strong feelings toward what the war was, and it is certainly clear of what Orwell's feelings were through reading this book. I wish I had read this in a literature class to learn more interpretations of this piece because it came out in such an important and interesting time in world history.

How do you feel about this book? What are some of your major takeaways from this piece? I would love to hear more from those of you that have read this in the past. Please let me know in the comments!

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